It was my first peek at a musical. I was blown away, and came back gushing so much that my aunt amusedly reported to my mother how captivated I was.
When I got back home, I rushed out and bought a casette of Miss Saigon, and spent the year that followed singing the songs every day. I still know them today by heart, though my casette has long been replaced by a CD.
In that first year, I was continually brought to tears by a musical I had never seen, except in my mind's eye. When I finally got the chance to watch the musical some 20 years later in Singapore, I happily cried buckets. It was so much more complete with the full dialogue and set and colour.
Still, the musical was partly incomplete for me for one reason - the angelic voice that captivated me, the person who will always define Kim for me, had stopped performing as Kim, 17 years before. When I first heard her voice at that music class, I reacted as Chris did in the opening bar scene in Miss Saigon : 'Good(ness), who is she?!"
So here's another reason I'm glad to be here in Australia. Last weekend, I was at a Lea Salonga concert in Adelaide. I sat in a reverie, almost holding my breath throughout each song. When she sings a ballad, she caresses every word with her crystal clear diction. When she reaches for a note, she hooks you at the valley, and brings you along as her crisp voice soars into a vibrato. Her voice is the epitome of sweet and pure, crystalline and bright; a musical instrument representation of graceful strength. I'm a fan of many singers, but there is no other in this department.
Here is Lea Salonga: